Did LAPD Shooting Policy Almost Cost a Cop His Life? Does the L.A. Times Care?
The Los Angeles Times has a story titled L.A. officer injured during drug probe. A more accurate headline might have been “LAPD Officer Seriously Injured by Motorist.” But, as we shall see, the editors may have had their reasons for failing to highlight the fact that the injuries were caused by a moving vehicle.
An undercover Los Angeles police officer was seriously injured this morning when he was apparently run over by a suspect during a narcotics investigation in Boyle Heights, authorities said.
The officer, identified by colleagues as [redacted], suffered two broken legs and head trauma and was taken to County USC Medical Center, authorities said. He was listed in serious condition.
It may be the case that only one of three officers fired their weapons:
Three officers were involved in the incident, which occurred about 8:30 a.m. near the intersection of East 4th Street and Dacotah Street, said Capt. Rigo Romero. At least one officer fired his weapon at the suspect’s car during the confrontation, he said.
Why might only one of three officers have fired at a car that drove at an officer fast enough to break his legs and put him in serious condition? The answer might well lie in LAPD policy. After the Devin Brown shooting in 2005, the LAPD instituted a new policy that prevents officers from shooting at vehicles in most cases, even if the vehicle is threatening an officer’s life. The L.A. Times ran countless editorials and slanted news articles geared towards achieving this change in policy, which now reads:
Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle. For the purposes of this Section, the moving vehicle itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer’s use of deadly force.
Today’s Times story reports that “[i]t was unclear whether the suspect, who fled the scene and remained at large, was armed.” So under the revised policy, officers may not have been permitted to shoot at the car — even though it could have killed Officer [redacted]. Even if one could argue that shooting at the car was permitted, it is certainly possible that officers may have hesitated because of the uncertainty of the revised policy’s reach.
Did the LAPD’s restrictive shooting policy contribute to a situation in which an officer was hospitalized in serious condition?
I don’t know.
But I do know this: I don’t trust the L.A. Times to investigate the question.
Thanks to Robert C.J. Parry.
P.S. Jack Dunphy is invited to weigh in on this if he so chooses.
UPDATE: More information can be found at the local NBC affiliate. The suspect is named Jose Gubiensio Ortiz, Jr. He attempted to strike another officer before hitting [redacted], who apparently did fire at the suspect. Officer [redacted] was originally in critical condition.
UPDATE x2: I am told that LAPD didn’t want the officer’s name released for safety reasons. I am redacting the name for now out of respect for their wishes. Browsing through news stories, it appears that only the Los Angeles Times has named the officer.
Could have just been proper gun-handling procedure:
“Know your target and what is beyond.nk (09a321) — 11/20/2007 @ 7:19 pm
Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.”
It’s possible.Patterico (bad89b) — 11/20/2007 @ 7:29 pm
With the ROE in Iraq hamstringing our soldiers, and with the capitulation of the LAPD to the Times, it’s a wonder anyone signs up to serve anymore.Patricia (f56a97) — 11/20/2007 @ 7:57 pm
Why would the LAT care if their opposition to the PD’s use-of-force policy, and advocacy for its’ change, was a factor in Officer Salazar’s injury; it is painfully obvious that their benighted opinion is that the entire PD isn’t worth the life of one thug.Another Drew (8018ee) — 11/20/2007 @ 7:59 pm
this officer is the husband of one of my dearest friends. This was a totally an avoidable injury. the police, LAPD or other agiencies (I am a daughter and sister of officers in other agiencies)have there hands tied and the criminals are protected and our officers are not!!!! The liberal media needs to help protect our officers and let them do the jobs they clearly will almost die for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MB (3d61da) — 11/20/2007 @ 8:07 pm
Had all the officers shot, the suspect would be dead and the officers would be facing what the “New York Groom” officers were facing. What ever happend with that case, by the way?j curtis (8bcca6) — 11/20/2007 @ 8:12 pm
NK is being very generous to the abilities of LAPD Officers. In a split second scenario all of those “proper gun handling procedures” go out the window and the Officer is usually just firing on instinct. Think first, shoot second, sounds great in theory, unfortunately it is almost impossible to do. I have been shot at several times on this job and every time I didn’t start thinking until after it was over.
I don’t know the circumstances of the shooting so I can’t say why only one Officer fired. Uncertainty over the policy’s reach is certainly a possibility since that is common or at least not uncommon in LAPD with new policies. Especially when you have had a different policy drilled into your head for 10-20 years. I would definitely like to hear what Jack Dunphy has to say since he probably has more contacts in Hollenbeck Division than I do.
Since I have taught Officers on the LAPD the policy for shooting at or from a moving vehicle, I might be able to give a little insight in that area. The policy is not a blanket denial of the right to shoot at a vehicle. If someone in the vehicle has dangerous weapon, such as a gun, which he is getting ready to use, Officers may shoot if that is the only option to stop the suspect. Similarly, the Officer may shoot at a vehicle that is being driven at himself or another person if that is the only option to stop the suspect. However, if the Officer has other options, for instance he can get out of the path of the moving vehicle, or can get behind a solid object, then he is not allowed to shoot and claim he was defending himself from the vehicle. Patterico or one of the other lawyers here can probably address the law more accurately then I can but my understanding is this is where LAPD is more restrictive then the Penal Code. I believe the law states that if I am assaulted with a deadly weapon, (the car), I am not required to move away, I can hold my ground and shoot. LAPD says that if I can move away, I cannot shoot. The trick is figuring out which situation you are in in the split second before you get hit.Paul (7719b1) — 11/20/2007 @ 8:30 pm
My heart goes out to you and yours.
The liberal media is never going to help your cause; the PDs everywhere need to ignore the noise and remember that the vast majority of the voters are with them and with law enforcement.Patricia (f56a97) — 11/20/2007 @ 8:32 pm
I haven’t learned enough about the incident to offer any opinions, but Paul (#7) is right on the money. I would only add to his comments the fact that when an officer fires “on instinct,” that instinct should conform to the training he’s had. And since we’ve been drilled ad nauseam on the revised shooting policy (call it the Devin Brown policy), I think most officers would be reluctant to shoot at a moving car no matter how much justification there might be to do so. Steve Garcia, the officer who shot Devin Brown, was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, but he went through two years of hell before that happened.
I’ll post more when I learn the details of what occurred. In the meantime, I’ll be praying for Officer [redacted], and I ask anyone else so inclined to do the same.Jack Dunphy (a6d9f9) — 11/20/2007 @ 9:07 pm
I second Patrica.
MB, extend my best wishes to the wife, and of cource to the Officer.
You let us know if there’s anything we can do for them.Scott Jacobs (a1de9d) — 11/20/2007 @ 9:48 pm
This was bound to happen….thanks to the cowardly police commission, Bratton and all their cronies. Oh yeah, the LA Times deserves credit too! Maybe Yagman can represent the injured officer. After all, wasn’t the officers civil rights violated?Jerry LeFrois/LAPD/RHD RET. (56a0a8) — 11/20/2007 @ 10:39 pm
As for the officer who fired at the moving vehicle. I pray you are not the next “sacrificial cop” for the LAT, Bratton and the cowardly police commission.
Jerry, if the cop that fired is the cop that got hit, they’ll have a hard time throwing him to the wolves…
Not that they won’t try…Scott Jacobs (a1de9d) — 11/20/2007 @ 11:21 pm
There is an update on this today. The suspect did surrender and was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer.
And of course having the police officer’s (or officers’) best interest and safety in mind, the LAT continuously names the officer throughout the article while stating,
“The LAPD did not formally release Salazar’s identity because he works undercover, but several officials named him.”
MB #9, please convey to this officer’s family that there are so many people who wholly support the police officers and feel extremely frustrated that their hands are tied as they seek to serve and protect us. A speedy recovery be his.Dana (09ddac) — 11/21/2007 @ 7:16 am
Yeah, I had noticed that, and just posted on it.Patterico (bad89b) — 11/21/2007 @ 7:33 am
Somehow such policies are just not going to motivate people to risk their lives to protect the public nor do their duty. I wonder when politicians will realize this?Thomas Jackson (bf83e0) — 11/21/2007 @ 8:36 am
And they make “try to run over the cop” a lot safer than “shoot the cop”.
It’s a weapon, and it’s aimed at them. Open fucking fire, officer. Aim for the head.Scott Jacobs (425810) — 11/21/2007 @ 8:58 am